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Difference between natural born pro and worked to get there pro

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

I was talking to a swiss pro the other day, Alex is his name, from leysin, coaches the national demo team, so you can imagine how good he is. Anyway, I've done some clinics with him and he was surprised by a comment I made. I asked him how does he prepare for  a difficult slope. He said 'what?'. Eventually I had to explain that I started skiing when I was 14yrs and had to train real hard to get my licence, and that whenever I am about to begin a real challenging bit of terrain, I say to myself 'strong core' or something else appropriate to the slope.

Anyway, he said he never thinks like this, in fact he never has. He never hesitates and just goes at it. Once I've made the first turn I'm fine and blast away and all is good, but it's just interesting to note the difference between someone born into skiing and someone not. He said it was good for him to hear this as he had never thought of this before, especially in relation to another instructor.

post #2 of 20

Title is misleading.

 

 

 

You both must have natural ability, you just have a stronger sense of self preservation.

 

 

 

post #3 of 20

Remember that everybody's "real challenging" terrain is different.  I think everybody will pause at the entrance of a trail that they deem "scary".  I've dropped into many trails without a second thought  because it was no big deal to me while others have been standing at the top debating the wisdom of continuing down that trail.

post #4 of 20

I ski on a 700 ft. hill in the middle of Wisconsin and there isn't a moment when i'm in ski mode that i'm not visualizing what I will be doing once I hit the fall line.  If there ever comes a day when I take skiing for granted and i'm not thinking about it, even in the dead of summer, that's when I know that I have lost the love for it.  Hang on to your desire. The fact that your pre-game is so focused is a good, good thing. 

post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Walkoe View Post

I ski on a 700 ft. hill in the middle of Wisconsin and there isn't a moment when i'm in ski mode that i'm not visualizing what I will be doing once I hit the fall line.  If there ever comes a day when I take skiing for granted and i'm not thinking about it, even in the dead of summer, that's when I know that I have lost the love for it.  Hang on to your desire. The fact that your pre-game is so focused is a good, good thing. 



there is alot of time when I am thinking about stuff. but being able to turn myself and just ski produces the best results. You should try turning yourself off everyonce in a while.

post #6 of 20


I ski "off" most of the time, if I'm actually thinking about what I'm doing, I'm going too slow. I consider turning your brain off a major breakthrough in any sport.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Walkoe View Post

I ski on a 700 ft. hill in the middle of Wisconsin and there isn't a moment when i'm in ski mode that i'm not visualizing what I will be doing once I hit the fall line.  If there ever comes a day when I take skiing for granted and i'm not thinking about it, even in the dead of summer, that's when I know that I have lost the love for it.  Hang on to your desire. The fact that your pre-game is so focused is a good, good thing. 



there is alot of time when I am thinking about stuff. but being able to turn myself and just ski produces the best results. You should try turning yourself off everyonce in a while.

post #7 of 20

I don't really look at a slope as difficult.  I look at some slopes as 'more entertaining' than others.  Then just ski it.

post #8 of 20

skiingaround: sounds like you have maturity and experience on your side! Your skiing buddy who started so young may never have been as fear-aware. Not sure it has anything to do with being a natural or not. 

post #9 of 20

I think you're missing the OP's point.  I started skiing as an adult and it IS different then someone who started as a child.  It's like learning a second language, it is never the same as a first language.  I can turn my mind off and just ski, but it will never be as natural and second nature a thing as someone who started young.  

post #10 of 20

Skiingaround-

Could it be that your mentor has been skiing since such a young age that he does not remember the feelings of doubt or focuses he might have had then? And he worked through those doubts before they became implanted in his psyche.

Combined with his training, confidence, and experience, (with the exception of very unique situations) any piste might seem 'ordinary' to him. Or at least not worthy of any particular attention.

 

This is not to say he is complacent nor that his skiing is mundane. But it shows a level of instinctiveness in his skiing that very few skiers will ever know. This is less common with skiers who picked up the sport later in life (such as the ripe old age of 10+). At this age, students are already becoming more analytical and selective about their choices. Whereas, in the toddler zone, they just imitate without any emotional connection to hold them back. Pure skiing.

 

Is it possible for one of these older skiers to ever reach that level of instinctiveness? To some degree, sure! But probably not quite to the same level as your friend.

 

You are lucky to have such a mentor! 

post #11 of 20

One man's challenging terrain is another man's cake walk.

 

Maybe your coach doesn't ski what would be challenging terrain to him (because he doesn't have a death wish), or he has forgotten when he found that switch to turn off in his brain.  I remember finding that switch about 30 odd years ago.  I just convinced myself that it wasn't steep, just flat with gravity acting sideways,  I just had to figure out how not to do an endo on the vertical sections.  

 

When you've done something enough times, you will have experienced a lot of different frames of mind.  I've skied totally disconnected, totally into every minute detail in slow motion, totally unaware, totally aware, thinking about exactly what and how to do something, not thinking at all, thinking quickly, planning ahead.  There is no one way that works best.  It can all work for you.   Don't worry about it. 

post #12 of 20

What you describe above, I think, is more ones personality then talent with the sport.  I am an analytical person.  I have to analyze and feel comfortable and plan things out.  If I am going to take a very steep bump run, tree run, etc I want to take the run slow once, put each part in my head, feel the pitch and terrain under my feet and then go back up and ski it.  Old boot would just go for it.  That is what's he's like, impulsive, fun, and doesn't sweat the small stuff and just does it.  I don't think natural ability explains the directors attitude or your attitude toward your approach to a steep or challenging run, that seems more like personalities.

 

Well i have a perspective on this.  Old Boot taught me to ski on one of our first few dates.  Actually he left me on the baby hill, pointed to an instructor giving a lesson to someone else and said, "Do what he tells her to do and I'll be back".  I was an avid skater (hockey skate), gymnast, and did track in school.  I was 17.  I caught on and could go up and down the baby hill after watching him show his student what to do once.  I went up and down the baby hill for 2 hours until the lifty said, why don't you ride to the top.  I was like Noooo, not till i have help.  Around noon, old boot remembered I was with him and came to get me.  I was sitting chatting to the lifty by then, bored to tears with the little run. 

 

He took me on all the rest of the runs that day at the resort (this was a small Ontario resort).  I spent the next two years skiing with him and his many instructor friends.  He worked at the ski hill and I skied free and received rentals free.  I did ski a lot.  In my opinion I was still learning, really felt unsure of myself and thought I looked like any new beginner that was still learning to parallel.  My fellow ski buddies were saying.. You ski fine when I asked for help.  I still cautiously crossed the hill back and fourth on every turn, completing every turn to slow down as I'd been taught on day one and enforced from other ski instructors I skied with.  After only 2 years on the snow people would ski up to me and ask "Are you an instructor"  I'd be like, Noo... I'm still learning.  They would say, you should go get your instructor, you're good , you'd pass.   I went, I did pass, I put it off to pure natural talent at that level, I work to get better.

 

I have a brother that never skied as a child (avid hockey player), skied 4 times a year, maybe 5 at small hills, and skis beautifully, all on natural talent, never had a lesson, and passed his instructor, no problem when he went and , I'm always amazed, no matter how little he goes, or if he takes off a couple years he comes out and skis smooth as can be.  One year on the same program we did have a level 4 examiner just watching saying, it has to be genetic talent, prior to my brother getting his instructor when he still only skied 4 or 5 times a year.  So maybe there's something in the genes.

 

When Old boot, who taught me to ski, went for his instructor the first time, he missed it.  He had to adapt his full style and really work on maneuvers, and after a year and a half of solid work he was able to pass it.  He worked hard to get better, but will say, it wasn't natural ability it was learned and worked for.  My two children, one had raw talent, learned to ski in an hour, loved it by 6 looked like a miniature instructor, the other was more clumsy looking, harder, not smooth, it just didn't come naturally.  He learned but never looked expert and we switched him to snow boarding around 10 which seemed to make him happier. 

 

Some people are born with a natural affinity, understanding and body shape, balance and coordination for certain sports and skiing must fall in there.  So there's natural talent that can take a person a long way and make it easier to learn, but not having natural talent won't preclude someone from learning and getting better.  As a child my gymnastic coach wanted to send me to Olympic camp.  The camp required genetic tests on parents, grandparents and child to determine if it was likely the child would remain the shape and build they needed to excel in the sport before they would accept someone to the camp.

post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz View Post

I think you're missing the OP's point.  


 

It;s funny you say that! I'm inclined to say you're missing the point. rolleyes.gif Firstly because I wanted to point out it's rude to make a statement like that. But second because there's probably more than one single perspective that applies to the OP's question. The op mentioned "difficult slope" and "hesitation". Different cues trigger different thoughts from different people. 

 

So there you go. 

post #14 of 20

Bushwacker is right about turning your mind off once you hit the fall line.  I did some skiing this weekend after I read this post and he and others are correct, it is very difficult to adjust your skiing on the fly, thinking about knee angle etc. when you are heading down the hill.  The results are better when you just ski.  I do stand by my statement, though, that you "thinking" about how you ski, and being analytical is a good thing.  But everyone is correct, just not when you ski smile.gif

post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz View Post

I think you're missing the OP's point.  


 

It;s funny you say that! I'm inclined to say you're missing the point. rolleyes.gif Firstly because I wanted to point out it's rude to make a statement like that. But second because there's probably more than one single perspective that applies to the OP's question. The op mentioned "difficult slope" and "hesitation". Different cues trigger different thoughts from different people. 

 

So there you go. 



My post wasn't directed at your post it just happened to be the next one in the thread.  Sorry if you thought it was rude.  I was only trying to get this back to his points about "the the difference between someone born into skiing and someone not."

post #16 of 20

 

Quote:

Difference between natural born pro and worked to get there pro

"Worked to get there" pros are usually much better instructors and coaches because they know more ways to compensate for lower physical and natural mental abilities.

 

Now as for the mindset of skiing something "intimidating".. I'd compare it to the notion of driving on autopilot or similar level on self hypnosis.  When you are driving on a long trip in really bad conditions you initially make a mental note to give some extra distance.  Very soon you are driving on autopilot and are there before you realize it.  You come back out of the trance as you negotiate wrecks (other skiers on the trail) and other obstacles-coast over frozen bridges-boiler plate ice-check the gas level, wipers, etc.  But, you're hardly micro managing every aspect of the trip/descent.

post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 

One of the main points I was hoping to bring up with this post was briefly touched on, and that is the type of ski instructor a 'work to get there' type is. I think this type, which is me, remembers more clearly the obstacles you have, especially the mental one which says 'your crazy to throw yourself down the mountain'.

One thing which this coach Alex surprised me with, was his surprise that I mentally made a couple of checks before hitting a challening slope. He's a fantastic instructor to work with, and I assumed he would know that some of us pro's do this. Alex was honestly really pleased with this discovery, he seemed almost thankful. Maybe my off hand comment helped educate him in a small way.

And I also agree with some other comments on this thread, and that is once you're in the zone, tearing it up, you don't think about it, you just do it. It's the thought of the first turn where I mentally prepare, then it's all downhill from there.

post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post

 

Quote:

Difference between natural born pro and worked to get there pro

"Worked to get there" pros are usually much better instructors and coaches because they know more ways to compensate for lower physical and natural mental abilities.

 

Now as for the mindset of skiing something "intimidating".. I'd compare it to the notion of driving on autopilot or similar level on self hypnosis.  When you are driving on a long trip in really bad conditions you initially make a mental note to give some extra distance.  Very soon you are driving on autopilot and are there before you realize it.  You come back out of the trance as you negotiate wrecks (other skiers on the trail) and other obstacles-coast over frozen bridges-boiler plate ice-check the gas level, wipers, etc.  But, you're hardly micro managing every aspect of the trip/descent.



Really I didn't throw myself on the ground in front of you just because I thought you were in Auto pilot and I wanted to startle your world!!!

post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Boot View Post



Really I didn't throw myself on the ground in front of you just because I thought you were in Auto pilot and I wanted to startle your world!!!

 

Fact is, I never saw ya.  You should try to find something less sublime to wear skiing.  It's a wonder peeps aren't colliding with you every day.

1000x500px-LL-3366247f_IMG_2715.JPG

 

Oh, and I'm blind, note the yellow caution tape on my polesbiggrin.gif
 


Edited by crgildart - 12/6/10 at 12:06pm
post #20 of 20



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skiingaround View Post

One of the main points I was hoping to bring up with this post was briefly touched on, and that is the type of ski instructor a 'work to get there' type is. I think this type, which is me, remembers more clearly the obstacles you have, especially the mental one which says 'your crazy to throw yourself down the mountain'.

One thing which this coach Alex surprised me with, was his surprise that I mentally made a couple of checks before hitting a challening slope. He's a fantastic instructor to work with, and I assumed he would know that some of us pro's do this. Alex was honestly really pleased with this discovery, he seemed almost thankful. Maybe my off hand comment helped educate him in a small way.

And I also agree with some other comments on this thread, and that is once you're in the zone, tearing it up, you don't think about it, you just do it. It's the thought of the first turn where I mentally prepare, then it's all downhill from there.



It seems to me your post is like your skiing.... your thinking too much... you started skiing when you were 14 and because of your late start, had to learn somethings and unlearn others to become a proficient skier.  I on the other hand stood on my 1st pair of skis when I was 2 years old... hence I have been skiing and walking the same amount of time..........to ski most lift serviced runs I put about the same amount of thought into it as I do getting up and walking across a room...

 

That said, skiing the back country and/or off piste were sometimes a different situation...when I was younger, sometimes I did think about the run before dropping in...  I took into account the terrain, snow conditions etc...calculated the risks involved and even planned my run in my head... but it was more about focus... where I wanted to and/or needed to turn, check speed and where I did not want to go relative to the slope and conditions ..... but I never thought about how to ski...it was more about how not to wake the sleeping dragon.

 

Now at 56 years of age I don't go into the back country very much anymore, and my skiing is limited to a few weeks a year.  (Although I do try to get up to Tuckermans every year or two)... but I can still ski pretty much any slope (depending on how the knees feel on that day) and I still do not think about skiing, I just ski......... its just like walking.

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